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 Berthe Morisot  (1841 - 1895)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: impresssionist figure and landscape painting, printmaking

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Berthe Morisot was born at Bourges, France on January 14, 1841.  She grew up in a bourgeois family which, in a break from usual practice, encouraged Berthe and her sister, Edme, in their painting.  She first studied with Guichard, a follower of Ingres, but in 1862 she made the acquaintance of Corot, and went over to his disciple Oudinot.  Her next great influence was Manet, and it was under his guidance that she took up figure-painting as well as landscapes, exhibiting both kinds of work at the Salons from 1870 on.  As a young woman, she joined the avant-garde and showed works at the impressionist exhibits that challenged the official Salon; her earlier paintings are lovely examples of what might be called mainstream impressionism.

In 1874 Morisot married Manet's brother Eugene, about whom very little is known. They had a daughter, Julie.  Morisot began to paint remarkably challenging pictures, and her fellow artists began to admire her more and more.  Unfortunately she was not thought by everyone to be a painter of the first rank.  At first she had more reputation as a hostess than an artist, entertaining such men of talent as Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, Manet and the poet, Mallarme.  She often posed for Manet, being his model for some of his well-known works.  She died in March of 1895.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
Mark Stevens in Newsweek, September 28, 1987
Masterpieces of Art: Catalogue of the New York World's Fair 1940


Biography from South Coast Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Berthe Morisot was born at Bourges, France in 1841.  She was the daughter of a successful and wealthy government official who himself was an enthusiastic amateur painter and supporter of the arts.  Being part of a family of wealth and culture, she received the conventional lessons in drawing and painting and eventually decided to make a career of these pursuits.

A French painter and printmaker, she was the first woman to join the circle of the French impressionist painters.  She exhibited in most of their shows and despite the protests of friends and family she continued to participate in their struggle for recognition.

By age 20, she had befriended Camille Corot, the important landscape painter of the Barbizon school.  Corot started tutoring Berthe and her sister Edma in their painting and also introduced them to other artists and teachers.  She worked under his guidance from 1862 to 1868.

She also experimented with seascapes, but being a leading exponent of Impressionism she painted mainly what she saw in her immediate, everyday life.  As a woman securely in the "haute bourgeoisie" that constituted domestic interiors, holiday spots, other women and children.

Berthe Morisot died on March 2, 1895 in Paris and was interred in the Cimetière de Passy.

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